Instead of the usual night of raucous music and loud crowds, Le Divan Orange treated an almost silent, whispering and finger-snapping audience to a night of spoken word art last Sunday. It was the March edition of the Throw Poetry Collective Slam, a monthly event that welcomes poets, creative writers and speakers to perform and compete in a mellow atmosphere. The finger-snapping served to replace the usual applause, showing that surely, this crowd didn’t want to miss a word.
Ottawa spoken word artist and fiction writer Luna Allison was the guest of the evening, but the show began with an hour-long open mic competition. The first round offered creative storytelling by 10 poets whose work touched upon a range of subjects like women’s rights, homosexuality, childhood, racism and religion. Their performances took on a tone that was at times dramatic and aggressive, yet mostly humorous.
Each performer was allowed three minutes on stage and was judged according to their stage presence, content quality and respect of time limit. The five performers who were given the most points made it to the second round, where they presented a different piece. The winner of the evening was Mohamed, who performed two explicit, yet witty and funny poems, one of which was entitled “Break Up With Your Boyfriend.”
Luna Allison, the featured poet of the month, followed-up with her storytelling, which incorporated audience participation. Her stories touched on the themes of feminism, homosexuality and poverty. In the piece “Is That What Made You Gay?,” Allison made simple but efficient wordplays while engaging in what became a charming musical collaboration with the spectators.
The author, who will have her play Falling Open presented at Montreal’s Fringe Festival in June, also shared a personal piece called “Buttercup” before elaborating on the sexiness of snow. “Snow melts every time you touch it,” she said in a sensual tone. “It melts for you, and it falls for you!”
Although some of the themes that were brought up over the course of the evening were ones that have, arguably, been slightly overdone, the performers were very successful at creating characters and exposing new perspectives on ordinary subjects. Their words had a great musical quality and they eagerly communicated their energy with the crowd.
Throw Poetry Collective Slam takes place at Le Divan Orange every last Sunday of the month at 7 p.m. They also have other events scheduled, which you can find at throwcollective.com.